Monday, December 19, 2011

Food for Thought: Quote from Meryl Streep

In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, Meryl Streep came across as charming, thoughtful, and awe-inspiring. The acclaimed actress provided many soundbites that I'd consider food for thought. And one of them was about Hollywood's double standards when it comes to actors and actresses.

"No one has ever asked an actor, you play a strong minded man. We assume that men are strong minded or have opinions. But a strong minded women is a different animal."

As this quote shows, Meryl Streep, know's what she's talking about. So many of Meryl's characters have been incredibly strong minded but honestly, it shouldn't even be a question that has to be asked by an interviewer. Or if it is asked, I'd love to see more actors having to answer this question. I'm sure that some of the responses would be like, "What the hell??? Why are you asking about what it's like to play a strong minded man?"

Also, I'm going going to use this blog post to remind everyone to go see Streep's latest film, The Iron Lady, about former British PM Margaret Thatcher. It's shaping up to be a interesting movie and another Oscar nod for Meryl Streep (and rightly so).

Meryl Streep's 60 Mins Interview 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Princess Culture

Growing up, children are exposed to countless images, messages, and belief systems. One prominent theme in American culture is the obsession with royalty and princesses. Little children, especially girls, are brought up in a world where they are exposed to countless messages about what it means to be royalty, how to behave like a member of royalty, and how to snag your own “prince charming.” These beliefs are born out of early  childhood viewing of Disney films and the media spotlight on royal families of the world. 
Walt Disney began the princess phenomenon which would later come to make up $3 billion of the company’s profit with Snow White and The Seven Dwarves. In 1937 Disney released Snow White, which was the companies first full length film. This film was one of the first to introduce girls to the princess culture on such a widespread scale. Snow White was fair-skinned girl with jet black hair who was kind and beautiful who unfortunately had one little problem; her evil step-mother. So she is taken to the forrest where she befriends the seven dwarves until one day she eats a poisonous apple given to her by the evil Queen. She soon falls fast asleep. She only awakens with a kiss from a handsome prince. Then they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. And thus, Disney began manufacturing this idea to children around the world. 
After Snow White came many other tales of Princesses in films like Beauty and The Beast, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, The Princess and The Frog, and Tangled, as well as girls who still fit into the princess category. These include Mulan and Pocahontas. All of these films produced stories of beautiful girls who in the end found their very own prince charming. However, some were more courageous and resourceful then others. Those who appear this way are a product of more contemporary films which have been produced in recent years. While Snow White may have kick started the princess culture other princesses certainly helped the cause. Growing up little girls play dress up as Cinderella, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, or Belle from Beauty and The Beast. And not only this, they dream of achieving what these women have achieved; true love and happiness. 
The shift in how Disney princesses are portrayed has occurred gradually over the companies history in such films. The first wave of princesses like Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty were all portrayed as passive, possessing domestic qualities like cleaning, and keeping up their appearance. Whereas the second wave of princesses were much more adventurous, independent, and assertive. This list of princesses includes Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan. The two waves of changes in the depiction of the princesses reflect societies values at the time. The first Disney films were produced in the 1930’s-1950’s. At this time women were suppose to be seen as beautiful, dutiful housewives. Whereas, in the 1980’s-2000’s, women have expanded beyond the roles of housewife. Women are much more adventurous and assertive in achieving their goals. This shift in changes reflects societies change as well. Yet, at the same time, many of these more modern princesses still have feminine attributes. They have challenged the traditional gender roles yet at the same time remain a part of them. Each of the princesses finds true love at the end of the story and goes on to live happily ever after. So, in a way, these films are still reinforcing the stereotypes of what it means to be happy and successful.
Much like the princesses manufactured by Disney those who descend from royal lines have also influenced how society views what it means to be a princess. Throughout history people have always held a fascination with women from royal houses. From Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth I, Marie Antoinette, Pocahontas (who later was immortalized by the Disney corporation), to more modern royals like Princess Grace of Monaco, and Princess Diana of England. Society has long had interest in it’s monarchies. 
However, it seems in recent years that this interest has elevated to something new. It really began when Grace Kelly, an American Hollywood movie star, married Prince Rainier III of Monaco. When they were married on April 18-19, 1956 it was broadcast to an television audience of 30 million people. People were fascinated by the what they perceived was a romantic love story between Hollywood royalty and European royalty. Those who followed the wedding wanted to know which designer the bride wore, what kind of cake they ate, what they splurged on, amongst other facts. Details such as that Princess Grace wore Helen Rose of MGM studio’s, a six-tier cake, and her parents paid 2 million for her dowry. It was little facts like this that the public could not get enough of.
The height of this obsession with modern royalty accumulated during Diana Spencer’s life. Diana was born into an old aristocratic family in England but she had never dreamed of being princess until met Prince Charles, heir to the British throne. In 1981, when she was only twenty years old, Diana married Prince Charles and became a princess. The nuptials between the two was watched by over 750 million and became known as the wedding of the twentieth century. For millions around the world they saw the wedding as a fairytale day. From Diana’s 25-foot train wedding dress designed by Emanuel, to the first kiss while waving to the crowds at Buckingham Palace, everything appeared to be a fairytale romance. This only solidified Diana’s place in history and made legions of girls around the world dream of being a princess. Throughout her marriage, until her subsequent divorce in 1996, and then for the rest of her life she was constantly watched by the media. People could not get enough of this “people’s princess” as she came to be known after her death.
American culture is obsessed with princesses which is ironic because the country does not have it’s own monarchy. Instead people look to other countries to follow the royal goings on. Perhaps, since the United States does not have it’s own monarchy, people wish for what they do not have. 
Disney has capitalized on a love for royalty with it’s princess themed movies and merchandise. They have created over 25,000 Disney Princess products which has led to them on a path to becoming the largest franchise dedicated to girls. These genius of this product placement was that the need for it was apparent. Researchers at Disney found that girls were dressing up as princesses wearing generic costumes while trying to emulate their favorite princess. So why not instead create a line of products which is based off of some of the most beloved Disney princesses? So without any marketing, advertising, or anymore research being conducted the company released a line of princess related products. It became their most successful venture yet. As Andy Mooney, an executive at Disney said, “we simply gave girls what they wanted.” 
So while girls may have wanted these princess related merchandise, why did they want it? 
Starting with Snow White Disney began creating stereotypes of what a princess should be. A princess should always be nice, pretty, and feminine. However, research has found that girls who believe in the conventual feminine beliefs are more likely to be unhappy with themselves. So does the princess culture create a feeling of perpetual unhappiness about a person’s beauty, personality, and relationship life? Well, if Princess Diana’s life is any indication, the answer is yes.
Princess Diana lived what many people perceived was a fairytale life. She was married to her prince charming, had two beautiful boys, was a fashion icon, participated in charity work, and was kind and good. Yet, underneath all of this, lay a horrible secret. The women who appeared to “have it all” really didn’t. She was in a miserable and loveless marriage, felt a terrible amount of pressure to look and act a certain way in public, and had a eating disorder too. 
Throughout her life Princess Diana was portrayed as embodying the Disney princesses form of femininity. She was seen as graceful, kind, and beautiful. Qualities which are all characteristics of princesses in Disney films. Yet, in all Disney films their is a morbid and  sad quality to them. Almost all of the princesses deal with the loss of a loved one or experience and dramatic change in their life. And goodness knows, Diana’s life certainly had it’s fair share of sadness too.
After Diana’s marriage with Charles ended in 1996 the public began to see the cracks in the foundation. After all, the couple had only dated for a year before getting married, so it was impossible for them to really know each other. Their relationship was built on a public image not a real foundation of love and respect. As Diana said herself,
“The most daunting aspect was the media attention, because my husband and I, we were told when we got engaged that the media would go quietly, and it didn't; and then when we were married they said it would go quietly and it didn't; and then it started to focus very much on me, and I seemed to be on the front of a newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience, and the higher the media put you, place you, is the bigger the drop. And I was very aware of that.”
The media ultimately played a role for the rest of the Princess of Wales life and even after death, she was still hounded by the press. While many girls wouldn’t like to be under constant scrutiny from the media, it is evident that many have dreamed of having a title and a prince. They look at Diana’s life and do not see where she suffered but instead see all the times where she was happy (or at least appeared to be so). And they want this happiness without ever realizing that a title will not make a person happy they must make themselves happy instead. 
The media and Disney could be accused of packaging this false idea of what it means to be a princess and the duties which come with it. When Diana was asked in an interview how she handled the transition from young lady to princess she remarked, “you see yourself as a good product that sits on a shelf and sells well, and people make a lot of money out of you.” She was on every tabloid, newspaper, magazine week after week for much of her adult life. Diana Spencer was no longer just a member of the aristocracy but a product. People used her name to gain fame and make money. As Charles Spencer remarked during his eulogy at Diana’s funeral, “It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest is this; that a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.” And it is when events like this happen that it slanders what it means to be such a person in that position. The idea of what it means to be a princess has forever been skewed. In the past princesses were seen as political pawns by their families to ensure their bloodline would continue and now princesses are seen as a tabloid fodder for the media and a great source of product placement. 
Recently an important event occurred in England on April 29, 2011; a royal wedding. The nuptials between Prince William and Catherine Middleton were watched around the world by about three billion people. This historic event will certainly have an impact on how future generations look at the British royal family and what it will mean to be a princess. For as Catherine Middleton has shown, one does not have to be born into royalty now days in order to become a princess. She herself is the daughter of self-made millionaires from a party planning business. Just like the marriage between Charles and Diana the marriage between William and Catherine was publicly scrutinized and adoringly watched by millions. And many of these royal watchers are little girls. 
As Lisa T. McElroy remarked on her daughters fascination with the royal wedding, “somewhere along the line, my 21st-century daughters decided they wanted to be princesses. They announced that they, too, wanted extravagant weddings with fancy white dresses and tiaras and carriages. They began dreaming of the flowers, and the veil, and their three little dachshunds processing down a very long aisle at the end of which their very own Prince Charming’s would be waiting.” 
Little girls do not necessarily dream about a marriage instead they dream about a wedding. The wedding day as people often say, is the happiest day of a persons life. But in reality a marriage lasts a lot longer. It seems that Lisa T. McElroy’s daughters have the same thoughts as many other young girls and thus this idea of marriage has been lost. They dream about the wedding dress, the cake, and the kiss but hardly any little girl dreams about the day to day life of a marriage. It isn’t very glamourous. But  McElroy aims to teach her daughters that, “true princesses are those who commitment to the people they love is about much more than a dress, a carriage, and a tiara.”
After the wedding hoopla died down a little bit it appears that William and Catherine are reflecting the modern ideals of marriage. They were soon back to the home they have rented in Wales where William has been sent to work as a RAF rescue pilot and Catherine has been spotted grocery shopping. Also the couple has has stated they will not have butlers, chefs, or valets instead planning to make do on their own. This has been seen as a more modern way of living compared to in the past where a member of royalty was waited on hand and foot. It is these small changes which will most-likely have big results in how royalty is portrayed. Thus also changing what it means to be a princess. For as Catherine has already shown, being a princess is not all glitz and glamour, their are menial jobs too. 
As the British monarchy evolves it appears that so will our thinking about the roles of princesses. Even the Disney films have changed how princesses are portrayed in films. In an interview with Ashley**, who was raised in a family where all vacations were spent at Disney World, she stated “you can always find the hints of change. It’s amazing to see in Disney how the heroines have changed from completely passive characters such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella (even their names reflect physical traits) to more assertive ones. Think Jasmine, Belle, and Mulan- and here enters the diversity as well. More recently, Princesses Tiana and Rapunzel. They all get a bit more assertive, more confident, and unwilling to settle. So things are changing. Slowly, but surely. I believe we can still have our princesses and our self-respect.” 
The princess culture has grown over recent years and will only continue to grow with Disney leading the helm. And once again when Prince William, Diana and Charles eldest son, announced his engagement to Catherine Middleton the culture’s obsession with this theme was renewed. It will be interesting to see how William and Catherine’s story progresses and what it will mean for how people view the idea of princesses. Whatever the outcome may be, rest assure that the princess culture will continue to dominate little girls dreams everywhere. 
*I wrote this paper for my Contemporary Women’s History class last year but thought I would share it on Cinematic Women as well. It doesn’t completely fit into this blogs niche but it’s still part of the larger issues at hand. 
** Ashley is a friend of mine, who I interviewed for this essay. 

...Remember The Ladies

The film awards season is quickly creeping up... soon it'll be a flurry of articles, parties, awards, congrats and tantrums for those who are sore losers. Speculation as to what films will be nominated have already begun. A few forerunners seem apparent (The Help, anyone?) but I'm sure that those in charge of nominations have got a few surprises up their sleeves.

However, A study by San Diego State University's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, found that of the top 250 highest grossing films of 2010 only 16% had women involved in the project. And while the highest grossing films don't necessarily represent what films will be nominated during award season it does show a trend. A trend that shows only a small percentage of women working in Hollywood hold positions as directors, executive producers, writers, producers, cinematographers, and editors. And to make matters worse, the study showed that it declined by one percent from data collected in 1998. Now that's shameful. 1998 was twelve years ago! Come-on, we should be seeing improvement since the 90's, not regression!

The Help, which has grossed 198.8 million since it opened in August, is already been tapped by many to be nominated at events like the Oscars. It is one of the most women-centric films I've seen in years. The Help is the story of a group of black women who come together to write a book about their lives as maids in the 1960's and the white girl who types up the book for them. And while The Help has it's share of controversy, it cannot be denied, how many women are on screen. It's so rare to see this many female characters in one movie. And to be talking about something other then their love life... well that's practically unheard of! So I am submitting this film for consideration for an Oscar nomination (even though I don't actually have a say in what films are nominated).

The majority of the films which have been suggested as possible Oscar winners are very male dominated, in the sense that the stories center around male characters and were written/produced/directed/ect by men. J. Edgar, The Tree of Life, and Drive are just three films which have been mentioned by the press as possible nominees. And I'm not saying that these film's aren't good because they are (I mean, I won't lie, Drive is a favorite of mine). But I what I am trying to say is that it's important that the Academy not only acknowledges these films but also highlight films with female characters and females working behind the scenes.

The success of one female character driven film and/or a large percentage of a female crew can mean a lot for the success of other women-centric films. These films can inspire other women to make motion pictures, thus more voices will be herd, and more stories will be shared. I am sure when Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director for The Hurt Locker a lot of women were inspired and proud of her (myself included). Including more women in movies and behind the scenes would create a more balanced ratio of women in films. And thus create a more complex, layered view of women, rather then just seeing them as the hottie/the girlfriend/wife/mother/etc. Because too often this is how women are portrayed. So, I ask the Academy to, "remember the ladies, and to be more generous and favorable to them then your ancestors," as the wise Abigail Adams once said, during this awards season.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Can Men In Hollywood Be Feminists?

People often have a preconceived notion that men cannot be feminists because "feminism only benefits women not men." However what these people fail to realize is that a lot of feminists believe in equality for both genders. In the film industry it can be difficult at times to find a man who would fit the definition of being a supporter of women's rights human rights but a few do exist. Probably one of the most profiled, well, in recent months, is Ryan Gosling.

Sure he has good looks (what a dreamboat *sigh*), and charm, but it's clear from interviews and from his actions that Ryan Gosling is a feminist. When his film, Blue Valentine came out last year, it was given a NC-17 rating by the MPPA. Not because Blue Valentine was horribly violent (which it isn't) but because the film dared to portray a women who enjoyed sex. Quelle horreur! There are plenty of films which depict men receiving oral sex from a women which are rated R but the fact that Blue Valentine was rated NC-17 said something about how the film industry views the two genders. God, forbid a women enjoys having sex! Because that would be morally wrong. However, Ryan Gosling refused to let Blue Valentine be slapped with a rating that was sexist and misogynistic. Instead he commented to the press,

"You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a women in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It's misogynistic in nature to try and control a women's sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger then this film."

Clearly, this quote say's it all, Ryan Gosling is one of us. A feminist. In the end, it was Gosling's comments that persuaded the MPAA to change Blue Valentine's ratings from NC-17 to rated-R. And it is quotes like this one that has made him a favorite amongst women and men.

Actor/Writer/Producer Matt Damon, recently narrated part of the documentary Women, War, & Peace which looks at the affect war has on women. War harms everyone, however, women are increasingly more likely to be used as pawns in war through acts of rape and other forms of violence. Because make no mistake about it, rape is used as psychological warfare, as a way to lower moral and humiliate the victim and their family. Yet, this documentary also looks at how women are making peace after the war's end. The women who are featured in Women, War & Peace are making their voice's herd and making changes which will have positive effects on themselves and their communities. It's so inspiring (and I urge everyone to watch this documentary... it's amazing).

So where does Matt Damon fit into all of this? As he puts it,

"Why I wanted to do Women, War & Peace was because I thought it said something really important about the nature of war and the nature of the experience of women. And- as a guy who's raising four girls- that matters to me. It matters to me anyways, but that makes it matter to me more."

I love that Matt Damon recognizes that women and men's stories are equally important. Throughout history women have too often been pushed to the wayside thus their stories are never herd. But it's through documentaries like Women, War, & Peace and people like Matt Damon who push for not only telling women's stories but also improving the lives of women that are making a difference.

I chose to only highlight Ryan Gosling and Matt Damon, two men in Hollywood who are feminists, because I think I'll save a few other men I have in mind for another blog post. I want to give everyone the attention they deserve!

Shout Out

Notice anything different about Cinematic Women? It has a slightly different layout and a new logo! I'm so excited that the look of the blog is finally coming together. And much of the props have to go to my friend Emily Levine, who designed the amazing logo. Isn't is great? Emily is such an awesome person and I am so lucky to have a talented friend like her. Please check out her own blog as well. It's a place where Emily has posted some of her portfolio work, all which I think are so well done. So once again, thank you so much Emily for all of your help with the blog layout! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Miss Representation

One of the best documentaries I have watched in the year has been, Miss Representation, which is about how women and girls are represented in the media and the repercussions of this. I watched the documentary with my mom when it aired on OWN in October because I had herd about it while trolling the internet. It was a great doc to watch with my mom, throughout the film she kept saying, "omg, this is horrifying" or "wow! I didn't know that." And I often had the same reaction that she did to a lot of the facts and stories which people told. Throughout the film we had an on going conversation about how important this topic is and how we've experienced it in our own life. Women are poorly portrayed in the media and this has a negative effect on all aspects of life; from succeeding in politics, to teaching young girls how to view themselves and young boys how to treat women. The misogyny that currently prevails in our society is harming all of us (no matter what gender you are) and it much be curtailed.

Miss Representation is a wonderful film that I feel should be required viewing by everyone. Everyone should see this movie to understand what is truly wrong with our society. One of the great things about after watching Miss Representation was signing the pledge on the website. It's a pledge to spread the word about the organization's cause and how to end the mistreatment of women. It's so simple and only takes five minutes to do. I urge everyone to take the pledge and then start talking about Miss Representation!

Here are some links to helpful websites:
miss representation twitter

And here is the extended trailer for Miss Representation... prepare to stimultaneously horrified but also feel empowered to do something.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Taking Issue With Elle Magazine's Women In Hollywood Issue

The women's magazine, Elle, recently did a Women In Hollywood issue (October 2011) which in theory sounds fantastic. A women's magazine promoting women working in the film industry! Brilliant! Right? But in actuality who did they choose to feature on the cover? Jennifer Aniston. When was the last time that Jennifer Aniston made a film that truly deserves accolades? That did really well at the box office? When was the last time she chose a role that didn't write her as the girlfriend or wife? Not in a long time. So why did Elle magazine bill her as the top interview for their Women in Hollywood issue? Jennifer Aniston is well liked, I'll give her that, but I don't think she's the right person to highlight in this issue.

Elle had the chance to feature women who are really making a difference in the film industry. Which they did on the inside of the magazine. But not on the cover. They included short interviews with Viola Davis (The Help), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Evan Rachel Wood (The Ides of March), Barbra Streisand, etc. Yet, none of them were on the cover. And all four would have made great cover stars. Especially Viola Davis, 2011 has been considered her breakout year by many, because of her role in The Help. I would have liked them to feature women other then actresses (only one made the list, Stacey Snider, CEO of Dreamworks). Like Kathryn Bigelow, director of the Oscar winning The Hurt Locker, for starters. Or what about Jennifer Yuh Nelson? Who directed Kung Fu Panda 2 the highest grossing film ever by a women. Or The Future's Miranda July and Higher Ground's director Vera Farmiga. Hell, even Angelina Jolie for her upcoming film, In The Land of Blood and Honey, would have been great! Plus many other women behind the camera who made some pretty great films this year. But no, Elle instead went a pretty generic route and choose to focus on a women who is perhaps more known for her personal life then her movie roles.

The Hunger Games

Besides being a massive fan of films I'm a literature lover. Give me a book and I'll devour it. So when I started seeing a lot of articles about The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and hearing friends rave about the series I gave the books a shot. Even though I'm a few years older then the intended audience I loved the series. And I'm not the only one, I know people from ages ranging from ten to fifty who enjoy the books. Heck, even my sister, who hates reading read the series and loved them!

For those who haven't read the books, here is a quick rundown of the story. The Hunger Games centers around Katniss Everdeen in a dystopian future. A future where children aged twelve to eighteen can be sent to fight to the death in an arena (like gladiators in some ways). The games are televised to everyone in Panem (a country where the United States once was) until only one of the twenty four children is left. The victor is rewarded with glory and wealth. It is a very controlling, dangerous world that Katniss lives in. Yet, she manages to stay strong even when everything around her is falling to pieces.

So when I herd that The Hunger Games would be made into a movie I was elated. Finally, a film about a kick-ass female! Katniss is a fighter and she won't go down without making sure she's kicked a few asses. It's quite refreshing to see such a strong-willed female character after the last few years of Twilight craziness. She's strong, cares for her family and friends, is sometimes clueless with interpersonal relationships, funny at times, and has the determinism to survive. Plus, Katniss has flaws too. It always irks me when a fictional character is "perfect." So often characters in movies (and in books too) are perfect and it's a highly idealized view of what a person should be like. But no one is perfect, not even a fictional character.

Hollywood rarely seems to make a female-action type movie and even then they are often highly sexualized. Examples include Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Charlie's Angels. And although at times Katniss is dressed up and shown off she is never asked to compromise herself. She dressed in a way which shows off her beauty rather then forcing her to be sexy. Much of this is because of her stylist, Cinna, who see's that Katniss isn't sexy, she cannot and should not be made into something completely unlike herself. Cinna just highlights Katniss's beauty even more. I remember when I read the books being so excited that Katniss wasn't trying to be someone she was not (she certainly wasn't a girly-girl). After all, she was too busy caring for her family back home in District 12 and trying to stay alive in The Games to care about such things. Some may argue that Katniss, at age sixteen, is a few years younger then Lara Croft or the girls of Charlie's Angels and thus she shouldn't be expected to dress in a sexy manner. Yet, time after time, women are four times more likely to be shown in sexy outfits compared to male characters in movies. So it's almost expected that teenage girls would be dressed in skimpy outfit.

Jennifer Lawrence has been cast as Katniss Everdeen, which I certainly think is a good choice. Just look at her turn as Ree in Winter's Bone. A very gritty, raw story but a role which Lawrence managed to capture it's essence. Recently during an interview with Vanity Fair, Lawerence said that when she was reading for the role she told Gary Ross, the director, "I understand if you don't hire me, but please remember that after Katniss shoots a bow and kills someone, her face cannot be badass." So clearly, Lawrence, understand's her character perfectly. And the rest of the cast of The Hunger Games is just as good. Actors Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and Donald Sutherland are also in the film.

While The Hunger Games hasn't been released in theaters yet (we have to wait until March 23, 2012) the film has give me a lot of hope. Seeing the buzz that the film is creating is fantastic. Not only amongst fans but articles in The Atlantic, Jezebel, and elsewhere makes it all too apparent that young adults (the stories intended audience) are not the only one's looking forward to the film's release. The story has given adults a lot to hope for. To hope that their daughters may be Katniss's rather then Bella's. To hope that this is the beginning of more female characters in films. To hope that women are given/written more roles that take them beyond a wife/daughter/mother and allow the portrayal of all sorts of different characters. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen, and Jennifer Lawrence have given us a lot to hope for and only when the film is released will we be able to see if it was worth it!

And for those who haven't seen the wonderful trailer... check it out!
The Hunger Games Trailer

Friday, November 18, 2011

Why We Need More Women In The Film Industry

Wertmuller. Campion. Coppola. Bigelow. These are the last names of the only women who have been nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards in it’s eighty-two years. That’s a lot of male winners! Only one of these women, Kathryn Bigelow, has won the coveted award with 2010’s, The Hurt Locker.
Appalling right? How is it that so few women have managed to succeed in the film industry? 
Over the years hundreds of films have been recognized by the Academy. Yet, the Best Director award remained out of reach for a women until 2010. Women have had the right to vote since the 1920’s and Title IX has been in effect since the 1970’s. Both have made equality between men and women somewhat more even (although we still have a long way to go). But one area where women have remained unable to make a name for themselves is the film industry. It is a very male dominated industry. Men dominate in pretty much all areas of the film process except, I suspect, in costume design.
In 2010 only 7% of the top 250 highest grossing films were directed by a women. And only 10% of the top 205 highest grossing films were written by a women. Statistics like this make it all too apparent how little women are in control of the films which are released each year. And women make up more then 50% of movie goers. So one would think that they would be at least half of the people behind the scenes of films. However this isn’t so.  
Think about it, 80% of the films produced are told from the perspective of a man. Even if the story is centered around a female character(s) it is still told through a man’s eyes. Women and men view females differently. Men tend to over-sexualize female characters. Whereas women are likely to create characters that are like how women actually see themselves. And when women are portrayed in an overly sexual manner that doesn’t bode well for anyone. It teaches men to demoralize women and for women to see themselves as inferior.
It’s daunting to any women to think they’d be in the same industry with people who’ve created some of the most misogynistic films to date. But this is precisely the reason why more women need to be an active part of the film industry. So the misogynistic films can be curtailed. And so that more women’s voices can be herd. It’s like Mao Tse-Tung’s quote, “women hold up half the sky,” so shouldn’t women be writing, producing, editing, directing half of the films in Hollywood? 
*I originally wrote this article for my tumblr Cinematic Style but I thought I would share it on this blog. It is after all, the article that convinced me to start Cinematic Women! 

Welcome To Cinematic Women

I created this blog with the intention of establishing a place where I could write about one of my loves; film. As an avid movie watcher I've become a bit disenchanted with what I've seen. Hollywood appears to be a boy's club and women aren't getting much love. So in response to my anger I've created Cinematic Women to further the discussion of women in hollywood. I want to write about the women in front of the camera and behind it too. Because they deserve to be herd. Because we deserve to read about them. And because the more people who understand the realities of how women are treated in the industry, how women are portrayed in films, and of how much women have to struggle to be herd in the industry then perhaps things will change for the better.
I suppose I should share a little about who I am. My name is Jemma and I am college student who's currently trying to figure life out. And while I don't understand everything I do understand movies. So welcome to Cinematic Women!